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Acadiana Musical Geography: St. Landry Parish

(Picture Courtesy: Facebook)

St. Landry Parish has a rich history.  The parish was founded in 1805 and, at the time, also included the present day Acadia, Calcasieu, Evangeline, Jeff Davis, and Beauregard Parishes.  It remains an important agricultural hub for Louisiana, as St. Landry Parish farmers specialize in soybeans, rice, cotton, and (of course) yams.

The “Imperial Parish” has also provided the world with fantastic music.  Zydeco has its roots in the parish, and many Cajun musicians.  Today, we honor St. Landry Parish and its musical tradition by featuring songs that mention its the cities, towns, and communities.

“Opelousas Sostan,” Rufus Jagneaux

Founded in 1720, Opelousas is Louisiana’s third-oldest city.  It has served as the seat of St. Landry Parish since the parish was created in 1807, and it briefly served as the capital of confederate Louisiana during the Civil War.  The city has also produced its share of notable people–from musicians (more on that in a bit), federal judges, chefs, entrepreneurs, authors, news reporters, football stars, and Olympic gold medalists.

For many music fans around Acadiana, you can’t help but think of Rufus Jagneaux’s rendition of “Opelousas Sostan.”  The pressing’s of Jagneaux’s single butchered the spelling of phonetically spelled the French name “Sosthène.”  Those pressings also credited a “Greef” and a “Palmer.”  However, later renditions by other artists list it as a traditional song without a songwriting credit.


(Video courtesy: YouTube)

 ”Allons à Grand Coteau,” Clifton Chenier

Speaking of Opelousas producing musicians, here’s (without a doubt) the most famous and influential zydeco musician to come from that city.  Clifton earned his title as “the King of Zydeco” by playing not only the dance halls of Acadiana, but by also touring the United States and Europe to spread the joy that is zydeco.

In this song, Clifton urges his friend (and the listener) to go to Grand Coteau, a city that refused to have a railroad built through it in the 1880s due to a fear of yellow fever.  Who knows, maybe Clifton had a gig at the Academy of the Sacred Heart or St. Charles College.


(Video courtesy: YouTube)

“Eunice Two-Step,” as performed by the Savoy Family Band

It’s only appropriate that one of the strongholds of Cajun music has a two-step named for it.  Eunice was founded in 1884 by landman and St. Landry Parish Sheriff C. C. Duson and named for his wife.  Duson left his mark on Acadiana.  In addition to creating Eunice, he helped create Acadia Parish, founded two other towns (Crowley and Mamou), and is the namesake for another town.

The town is the home of the Cajun Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  In addition, it is the home of the second-to-last St. Landry Parish high school to have won a state football championship–the 1982 Eunice Bobcats.  Eunice has also produced a number of outstanding musicians, including the Savoy Family Band, who are heard hear playing their hometown’s namesake two-step.


(Video Courtesy: YouTube)

“Valse d’Arnaudville,” Howard Noel, Jr., and Cajun Boogie

We go from the extreme western portion of St. Landry Parish to the extreme eastern part.  Arnaudville also sits in two parishes–St. Landry and St. Martin–and is only three or so miles from the Lafayette Parish line.  Originally named “La Jonction” due to its location at the confluence of the Bayous Teche and Fuselier, Arnaudville was later named for the three brothers who founded the town.

Arnaudville holds a special place in my heart, as I’m an alumus of both Arnaudville Elementary and Beau Chêne High Schools.  When you’re in town, make a point to stop by Nunu’s Art Gallery and Myron’s Maison de Manger.


(Video Courtesy: YouTube)

“Port Barre,” Rufus Jagneaux

We close our musical tour of St. Landry Parish with the same artist who began it.  “Port Barre” was the flip side of the “Opelousas Sostan” single.  Port Barre is about 10 minutes east of Opelousas on US 190 and several miles up the Bayou Teche from Arnaudville and Leonville.  Port Barre High won the Class 2A state football title in 2002, making that school the last from St. Landry Parish to have taken home a state football championship.


(Video Courtesy:  YouTube)

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